Alumni Spotlight: Jabari Brisport


Chelsea Lin, Managing Editor

Jabari Brisport, class of ’05, attended Yale University and then pursued an acting career. He later became a public school teacher, and ev=entually became a politician. Brisport now serves as a New York State Senator for District 25, which encompasses downtown and central Brooklyn. “I’ve always been interested in politics,” says Brisport. “Even when I was acting, I really liked political theater and being in shows that had a political message.” Brisport emphasizes that even while he was acting or teaching, activism was always a part of his life. During his time as a teacher, Brisport would often be frustrated with his school’s lack of funding for his students. “Knowing that my students were housing insecure really motivated me to see what more I could do and running for office seemed like a good use of energy and a good avenue for me to try that,” says Brisport. Brisport shares his favorite memories at Poly, mentioning his ninth-grade history teacher, Elijah Sivin. Below is a Zoom interview with Jabari Brisport.


“I had the pleasure of working for Mr. Brisport in the summer of 2021 through an internship opportunity. It’s really great to see someone just like me represent my community and it was a pleasure to work for him.””

— Kyle Williams, Upper School Student


What do you enjoy most about being a NY State Senator?

“I think the most enjoyable part of this job is having incredible power to do good. Days come in where people are worried about getting evicted or losing their home, people come to our office saying that they have not seen their unemployment check in weeks and months, and they are having trouble purchasing food or paying rent and we’re able to help them with that. And then beyond just on a case by case basis, knowing that I can make laws that affect the entire state in a positive way is really inspiring. One thing we’re working on is to guarantee three child care to every parent in New York State, which is to make life easy for millions of parents across the state.”


What are your main goals as a New York State Senator?

“I have two tracks. One is legislative [and the other] in the district. On [the] legislative [level], they’re big, bold, universal programs that I want to enact such as guaranteeing every single person in New York healthcare, guaranteeing everyone childcare, passing universal rental protections for tenants, but then in the district [side], there is also the desire to organize more people into politics. A lot of people think politics is not for them, or that politics [and] voting doesn’t matter, or [that] politics in general doesn’t matter, that no one’s looking out for them. And it’s always a big life to help people realize that nearly every problem that comes to our offices is systemic, [and] that it is really weird that somebody says they’re struggling with something and they’re the only person in Brooklyn [and] the only person in New York struggling with that. And it is about helping people realize that if others are struggling with the same issue too, [then that] if we band together, we can be a movement to fight against it and come up with a solution that is not just person by person, but something that changes the system that is harming them.”


What was your experience at Poly like?

“My experience at Poly was really fun. I discovered a love for acting at Poly from being in the musical in middle school to getting on the stage in high school and ultimately pursuing an acting career. It was great [and] I also loved the teachers there. Teachers there just have a lot of love and a lot of passion and they make the school what it is.”


What are some of your favorite memories at Poly?

“One was playing Coalhouse Walker — we did a musical called Ragtime my senior year — and opening night was one of the most surreal and beautiful theater experiences I have ever have had, including when I performed professionally. And then I was [also] on the wrestling team for most of my high school time and there was one time where we had a home game and I was losing up until the last ten seconds where I was able to pull a reversal. And the crowd just cheered so much — [because]we needed it, we needed it for the whole team, we needed the point — and it felt so great, especially because I really thought I was gonna lose and it really came down to the last 10 seconds.”


What did you do after graduating from Poly?

“In the summer after graduation, I went to intern at New York One in their media unit because I was looking [at] something that had to deal with media as I was really interested in acting. And so I was an intern there [and] I learned a bit about cutting audio and video and I also learned what it is like to be in a newsroom and how competitive they are with other news networks [and be] the first person to report on something.”


In closing, Brisport says “Go Blue Devils!”